San Francisco Fraud Victim About to Lose House

I am not sure what to do. She is not my client but she is about to lose her home after forking over at least $100,000 over the years to the con artists ripping her off over the internet for the last couple years. I have told her friend that she needs to go straight to the FBI.

I learned of the situation when my client came to me a couple months back. He is the second victim in this situation. The woman, his friend, is 84 years old and bought her 800-square-foot house in 1973. She is retired and worked for the same company for 40 years.

My client loaned her about $90K thinking that she needed the money in order to have some contacts of hers track down her inheritance in Ireland. He forwarded me some of the e-mails that she had received from abroad from those supposedly trying to help her.

She is the victim of what is known as a “wash-wash scam” or a “black money scam.” My client got duped too. Here is the scenario: At some point she likely opened an email promising her the inheritance back in Ireland. However, the “money” cannot be used in its current state. It has to be “washed” or “activated” with a specific chemical. I know, I know. How could anyone fall for it?

The fraudsters claimed that while enroute with the chemical on the way to the bank to activate the money, that the two men working for her died in a “fiery” car crash, with “bodies burned beyond recognition.” As if to ad legitimacy, the emailing dirtbags enclosed a clip art/stock photo of the purported burning car. The woman apparently still believes all of this. My client is likely going to have to sue her to get part of his money back. She cannot pay her credit cards anymore and her house is aboout to be foreclosed.

There is an on-line form at FBI web site for reporting such cons. The moral of this sad tale is keep an eye on your lonely or elderly relatives. Ask them questions about what they are doing in the real world and in the cyber world. If you know someone who can’t handle their financial affairs or is being preyed upon, call Adult Protective Services or your local police department.